A notice on the official website for the City of Berkeley police department warns residents of phone scams involving Bitcoin. Calling them “cyber-enabled fraud crime,” the post talks about a woman who scammers attempted to victimize via telephone – even calling her from the number 911. The scammer claimed she was under investigation for drug trafficking and should give all the money in her bank account to avoid arrest. The scammer wanted Bitcoin.
The post doesn’t talk about the outcome of that case, but we assume the woman eventually contacted the real authorities to ensure it was all a fraud. The situation brings to mind similar scams, like the recent rash of spear-phishing attacks threatening to release video of a person enjoying pornography.
According to the FBI, the increase in popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has coincided with an increase in scams that demand payment in them. Scammers most often target people over the age of 50.
People have paid out over $7 billion since 2014, and the agency has received over 1.5 million complaints. This a considerable portion of the American population, which was calculated at just over 320 million in 2016.